The dining room table is set with china and silver. Candles abound. The requisite turkey and trimmings fill the sideboard. A hale and hearty group of family and friends gather around the fireplace for conversation and the required family picture. In short, it’s a day of treasured customs and fond memories.
Yet outside the realm of my family’s traditions I have developed a Thanksgiving ritual of my own. It’s a quiet celebration I enjoy in the early morning hours, before the excitement of the day begins.
In the darkness before dawn, I wrap myself in robe and slippers and journey to the kitchen. I turn up the heat, make a cup of tea and sit down at the table. There a can of silver polish, a soft cloth and a large wooden box of silverware await.
I must admit I hate polishing silver. It’s a detail-oriented, time-consuming task that completely bores me. However, there was a Thanksgiving seven years ago when my mother and I sat at my kitchen table and polished silverware together.
As we worked we talked, we reminisced and laughed in a way we had never done before—and never had the chance to do again— as a short four months later, my mother passed away.
The year following mom’s death, Thanksgiving loomed as a painful holiday. I searched for ways to manage that pain with little success. Ultimately, as I began my turkey day preparations, I sat down to undertake the dreaded silver polishing. I began the task with a heavy heart and a crabby attitude.
Yet in shining my way through the tarnish I suddenly remembered a funny story Mom and I shared the previous year. I savored the remembrance for a few moments until another of our conversations from that day enveloped my mind.
Suddenly I found myself wrapped in memories of that special Thanksgiving morning, and the pain of the past wasn’t quite so bad. Suddenly the specter of the first Thanksgiving without my mother was a little easier to bear.
Since then, amid the wonderful traditions of my family’s Thanksgiving Holiday, I make sure to include my own special early morning ritual. No doubt, I still dread the task, but, over the years I have become most thankful for the comfort of freshly polished silver on my kitchen table.
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